The Best Small Space Organization Solutions—According to People Who Live In Tiny Homes

published Apr 19, 2018
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

The tiny home movement has undeniably arrived—not just for minimalists looking to get back to basics, but for adventurers, families, and even 9-to-5ers. In fact, at least half of Americans now say they would at least consider living in a tiny house (defined as fewer than 600 square feet), according to a new report. Even if you’re not so sure the tiny life is for you, it sure is interesting to imagine how people seemingly like you could pare down their belongings and live what seems like the simpler life.

Organization is a challenge for most of us, but doing it in less than 600—often way less—square feet? Now that requires some ingenuity. These tiny house owners have plenty of advice for keeping small spaces tidy and organized, giving shout-outs to some of their favorite life-saving products as well. Get ready to streamline your own (likely not-as) tight spaces with their tips.

Think Vertically! No Space is Off-Limits

Whitney Leigh Morris of The Tiny Canal Cottage lives with her husband, son, and two dogs in a charming 400-square foot 1920s cottage on the Venice Beach Canals. When it comes to small space organization, she’s a pro at looking beyond closets and floors and looking up to find extra room. This means filling the space on top of the refrigerator with wire bins, mounting baskets on the wall, or placing a shelf with baskets in a corner. “Going vertical and using corners are both handy space-saving tips,” Morris says.

See more of her space here: Whitney and Adam’s Live/Work Canal Cottage

Maximize Every Available Inch With Clever Magnet Solutions

Gourmet cooking is still possible in tiny houses and small kitchens, according to Jenna Spesard of Tiny House Giant Journey. “I love to cook,” she says in a YouTube video. “And I especially love to cook with spices and gourmet salts.” To make it all work in her tight space, she incorporated convenient magnetic space savers in her kitchen, like a Gneiss spice rack (a magnetic plate that holds spices and can be hung on a wall) and a magnetic knife holder.

(Image credit: Pat Piasecki)

When It’s All on Display, Combine Form and Function Wherever You Can

Chloe Barcelou and Brandon Batchelder own a film, theater, and set design company, so it’s no wonder that they live in an inventive tiny home that actually expands. Their home brings together form and function using solutions that not only look great, but keep things in order on the cheap. They built affordable cabinets to line the walls of their tiny home, then dressed them up with decorative trim and gold chicken wire keeps to keep items in place while traveling. The couple also uses affordable, yet stylish, black pipe constructions for clothing racks, pot racks, and shelving.

Find Just-Right-Sized Homes for All Your Small Items

Kate Oliver, Founder & Designer of The Modern Caravan, her wife, Ellen, and their daughter cruise the U.S. in a sleek, beautifully-designed Airstream. The couple has discovered great products along the way that hold all of those tiny, “losable” items. Oliver is particularly fond of their IKEA VARIERA trays that keep utensils and cooking tools in “one, neat, tidy place,” the linen drawer organizers made for small items like bathing suits, undergarments, and socks, and the mini tins that stash away hair ties, paper clips, and flossers.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Carve Out As Many Hiding Places as You Can Fit

Rebekah Carey, a stylist, designer, and freelance writer, favors vintage throughout her tiny home. Using multifunctional vintage furniture pieces, she “hides away essentials” in places like an antique cupboard, a vintage locker, and a bedside table that’s also used as a drop-leaf desk and extra storage space. Even the midcentury dining table holds four wooden folding chairs.

Don’t Count Out Big Box Stores for Finding the Perfect (Affordable) Solution

Joshua & Shelley Engberg are the owners of, the largest supplier of tiny house trailers in the U.S. They’re also authors of the best-selling book Tiny House Basics: Living the Good Life in Small Spaces. In four years, they’ve mastered the tiny house life, finding versatile organization solutions at major retailers like Target, Michaels, and World Market, which goes to show that you don’t need to spend a lot on good organization. Their must-have organization items include: a tufted storage ottoman, wire baskets, a two-drawer storage shelf, and a round honeycomb shelf.

It Doesn’t Cost a Cent to Take a Holistic Approach and Purge, Purge, Purge

Shalina Kell travels the country with her teenage daughter in their 350-square foot home on wheels. The tiny house designer and builder says that she didn’t purchase any organizing products for her home, instead relying on custom storage compartments that she built herself. But there are a couple of organization tools she can’t live without—her copies of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. Kell surrounds herself only with items that bring her happiness.

Whether you practice KonMari or head to your local Target for collapsible fabric bins, there are endless ways to get organized, even if you’re short on space. These tiny house owners are proof that it can be done.